The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced new drinking water standards related to Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) levels. PFAS are a type of chemical used since the 1950s for a variety of purposes, for example, to keep food from sticking to packaging or cookware, make clothes and carpets resistant to stains, and create firefighting foam that is more effective. PFAS have largely been removed from consumer products since the early 2000s, but these long-lasting chemicals are still found in soils, water, and air.
The EPA is planning to lower the enforceable limit for certain PFAS compounds from 70 parts per trillion (PPT) to 4.0 PPT. The great news for our residents is that we recently participated in a voluntary study with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) which found no trace of PFAS in Erie's drinking water. However additional testing of raw water sources did detect small traces in Erie Lake, with a reading of 4.5 PPT. It's important to note that water from Erie Lake is rarely transferred to our drinking water treatment facility, as most of our water comes from high-quality western slope runoff which has little impact from any PFAS producing industry. If there would be a need to use Erie Lake water, our treatment systems will successfully reduce PFAS.
In fact, we have already taken proactive steps to ensure our drinking water continues to remain in compliance with the new EPA requirements. We expect these new EPA regulations to be in place by the end of 2023 and are planning a second round of PFAS testing which will occur later this year.
To reduce levels of PFAS, equipment in half of our Water Treatment Facility utilizes Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), which actively removes PFAS compounds. Our current plant technology can process reduce PFAS at flow rates of up to 5 million gallons per day if necessary, which is more than double the average winter demand. If necessary, we can install additional GAC technology throughout our entire facility or utilize blending to reduce contaminant levels.
The health and safety of our residents is of the utmost importance, and we will continue to provide water which meets all existing and new standards. Rest assured that the Town of Erie is committed to providing the safest drinking water available to our community.